Tag: veterinary medicine (Page 1 of 4)

Leading the Way to the Future of Veterinary Medicine

“Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality.”– Malala Yousafzai

Dr. Claudia Sonder leads a mini horse to safety in the aftermath of recent fires near Napa.

As a community, I know we all grieve the loss and devastation associated with the multitude of fires in northern California that our regional neighbors are experiencing. In times of natural disaster, we stand ready to assist the animal victims and their owners caught in the path of these fires. We have a number of activities already underway and resources available to respond to official county and state requests. We provide our assistance to address regional needs as we have always done in times of necessity.

A rendering of the exterior of the future Equine Performance Center.

This week we launch a new beginning for our school as we “lead the way” toward the future of veterinary medicine. Our plans and dreams for a new Veterinary Medical Center build upon the legacy of our past and the vision of our future. The need for these improvements has been amplified with this week’s fire disasters, as our facilities harbor those animals in need of our care and offer relief for our neighbors through our outreach programs. We seek to create the future, by building on the accomplishments and dreams of those that have come before us, building new trails in research discoveries that advance the health of animals, people, and our environment.

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Fall Faculty Reception: Celebrating our Past, Honoring Excellence, and Welcoming New Faculty

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

New faculty members Drs. Blythe Jurewicz and Ilana Halperin

During our Fall Faculty Reception, we welcome new faculty, honor current faculty achievements and recognize those that provide exception service to our school. In doing so, it is a good time for us to reflect upon how our school has obtained its international reputation as a leader in veterinary medical education and scientific discovery. While we recognize only a few deserving individuals during these events, we are reminded that the creativity and energy of our faculty and volunteers drives us to address societal issues, create new and fundamental knowledge, and educate the next generation of veterinarians and scientists.

Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe (left), Chief Executive Officer of the AAVMC, visits with Drs. John Pascoe and Isaac Pessah.

Dr. Helen Raybould is honored this year as the Zoetis Excellence in Research Awardee for her outstanding research clarifying the relationship between diet and the gut microbiome, interactions that have been shown to influence obesity and inflammatory responses. Her research has advanced the understanding of inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic disorders, as well as led to the identification of new targets to treat and prevent obesity.

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Addressing Societal Needs by Combating Antimicrobial Resistance

“Infectious disease exists at this intersection between real science, medicine, public health, social policy, and human conflict.” – Andrea Barrett

As part of our school’s vision, we seek to address societal needs. In challenging ourselves to this daunting task of working to solve the most vexing problems our world faces, we find our people and programs drawn toward the interface of science, public health, and policy. In opening remarks at the recent G20 Conference, Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, praised Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel for recognizing that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major threat to the health of the world’s populations and the future of economies of the many countries.

He indicated that as many as 700,000 people worldwide are already dying each year because of drug-resistant infections and that the cumulative economic cost of AMR will reach 100 trillion dollars by 2050, a cost primarily borne by low and middle income countries. The Secretary-General went on to suggest that “by implementing existing international commitments and recommendations of the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Organization for Animal Health, countries can promote a more appropriate use of antimicrobials in a true ‘One Health’ framework.”

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Innovation and Creativity Lead to Positive Change

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” – William Pollard

We all marvel at those among us that are creative in their approach to life and work. Through the vision of those who innovate, we see creativity put into action—in some cases changing the world. In our society, we celebrate pioneering changes that improve the health and well-being of animals, people, and our environment. Throughout our school’s history, we have always embraced new ideas, cutting-edge treatments, and novel discoveries that bring about positive changes in veterinary medicine and biomedical or agricultural sciences.

Our faculty, staff, and students are eager to explore new ways to educate themselves and those they teach, through educational initiatives that embrace unique technologies to expand our intellectual horizons. This thirst for implementation of new ideas is a founding principle that allows us to maintain our global leadership position in research, education, and service to our communities.

So how do you encourage or promote innovation and creativity? Forbes magazine suggests that the workplace needs to be “relaxed and flexible” to increase productivity and encourage new ideas. Certainly, most would agree that lowering the barriers to sharing concepts includes an atmosphere that encourages a free flow of new ideas. Idea generation supported by an inventive environment is a starting point of the process of positive change. 

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Education as a Tool for the Future

“Education is not a tool for development – individual, community and the nation. It is the foundation for our future. It is empowerment to make choices and emboldens the youth to chase their dreams.” – Nita Ambani

Members of the Class of 2017 came to us nearly four years ago to begin their journey of obtaining a DVM degree. Here they recite the veterinarian’s oath during their induction ceremony.

As our graduates start their journey into the world, we are inspired by their thirst for knowledge, energy, and new ideas. They come to us seeking to be enlightened and in turn shine their radiance on us, stimulating us by sharing their dreams. Throughout their time here, they have challenged us to be better mentors and create opportunities for them to change the world. Our graduate students have discovered insights into topics ranging from the protection of our environment to mechanisms of cancer. Our house officers will be bringing their special skills to grateful clients throughout the world, expanding treatments and setting new standards of care. Our veterinary students will now be called “doctor” for the first time and disperse into fields ranging from private practice to public health, each determined to make a difference in the lives of their animal patients and humankind.

Seems like yesterday that the Class of 2016 were celebrating their commencement.

As our students, residents, and graduate students leave us, they remind us of the power of youth and dreams. Their educational journey started with their desire to gain the knowledge and skills to advance animal, human, or environmental health. They are starting into the post-graduation realm during a time of great possibilities, and many challenges. Each new graduate joins an illustrious history of UC Davis. They have enhanced the school’s legacy of producing leaders who will make a positive impact in the world. For our faculty and staff, I would ask you to reach out to those leaving and discuss their plans for the future; ask them to take a moment to reflect on their time and their fond memories, and forgive us of our short comings. Ask them to believe in themselves, as you know they have worked through difficult years of study to arrive at the place they are now.

In a few short weeks, the members of the Class of 2017 will wear graduation robes in place of these white coats.

We have provided them the tools to change the world, but it is their drive and creativity that allow them to achieve their vision. They came to us to learn, and in the process, taught us many life lessons. Each one of them have expanded the school’s history with their own distinctive stories. Their challenge will be to extend their talents beyond the classroom, clinic, and laboratory to venture into communities across the globe and build the future. Our students come to us as strangers and leave as friends and colleagues that have formed enduring bonds that will last our lifetimes.

Celebrate the Act of Giving

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” -Napoleon Hill

Students at the 2016 Evening of Gratitude.

We celebrate the act of giving to others and creating dreams during our annual “Evening of Gratitude.” This is a special night and one that I look forward to each year. Our school’s 2017 scholarship and grant program provided $6.7 million in total support for our students this year! We are deeply grateful for the generous support of our individual, association and corporate scholarship donors who make these new and continuing awards possible.

Dr. Anjolie Daryani with her service dog, Ebony, who accompanied her to classes and events, including commencement.

An example of new investments in our students included the “Ebony Compassionate Care Scholarship Fund” created by Dr. Dustin Noack (DVM, 2014), our first Evening of Gratitude speaker, and Dr. Anjolie Daryani (DVM, 2015) for a student who demonstrates exceptional compassionate care for animals. Their compassion will pay forward to benefit the next generation of veterinarians from UC Davis.

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Passion is the Secret to Success

“Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” – Swami Sivananda

Our school’s recent #1 rating in the QS World University Rankings for the third year in a row is a reason to celebrate. This honor is a form of validation that brings us praise from around the world and a much-deserved chance to highlight our excellence. We must remind ourselves also that rankings have little to do with our daily motivation or our work habits. These rankings do offer us the chance to shine a light on our achievements and lend us an opportunity to acknowledge those that set the stage for this lofty honor.

So how are these rankings determined and how did we obtain such recognition? Certainly, these types of rankings are based on both subjective and objective data. The scholarly output by our people documents the impact that our discoveries have in the world of veterinary sciences, as well as agricultural and biomedical sciences. Our faculty are driven to produce new knowledge, change paradigms, and challenge dogma. The result of their work opens new doors to basic mechanisms of life’s processes, produces new standards of care for our animal patients, and creates novel findings that build on the foundation of scientific knowledge to advance the health of our world. 

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Enhancing Global Food Security

You must look within for value, but must look beyond for perspective.”- Denis Waitley

The Health for Animals and Livelihood Improvement (HALI) Project is a collaborative research and capacity building program investigating health at human-animal-environment interfaces in Tanzania.

Recently, I was privileged to be an invited speaker at the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Global Food Security Summit: Understanding the Role of Animal Health and Well Being in Washington D.C. The summit participants included a diverse group of organizations discussing the positive benefits of public and private stakeholder partnerships and the veterinary community to promote and enhance global food security. Among other goals, the summit defined the role of animal source foods in enhancing global food security and described ways to improve animal health to create a more secure, sustainable, safe, and nutritious food supply in areas of global food insecurity.

Participants of the summit were made aware of the stark reality that approximately 75 percent of the world’s poorest people get their food and income by farming small plots of land, and the critical role of animal-sourced proteins in the first 1000 days of life to prevent malnutrition and childhood stunting. It is relatively easy to lose perspective for the plight of the world’s poor in the developed world where food sources are taken for granted. In our daily lives, it is assumed we will have access to multiple sources of nutritious food, even though we may make poor choices in the foods we choose to eat.

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Scientific Questioning Shines Light in the Darkness

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” –– Albert Einstein

We are privileged to work in an academic environment that promotes questioning of dogma and promotes scientific investigations to create new knowledge to benefit society. We also find ourselves in a time in our nation’s history in which the scientific method may be in disrepute by some of our political leaders. Ideology and “alternative facts” have captured headlines and represent a direct challenge to the role of science as a driver of policy making. As a scientific community, we must now more than ever, focus our attention on how we can contribute evidence-based facts to guide our nation’s direction if we are to contribute to solving the problems in our world. We must lead by example and create new knowledge to serve society and advance the health of animals, people, and the planet we all share.

A good example was the recent UC Davis conference to discuss how academic institutions can help African nations meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of access to clean energy and water, sustainable food production, and healthy lives and well-being. The conference brought together speakers that included Madame Mathilde Mukantabana, ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States, and Ms. Genevieve Maricle, former senior policy advisor to the U.S. ambassador at the U.S. Mission to the U.N.  The conference featured our faculty throughout the day, including Dr. Woutrina Smith, who discussed “Linking Sustainable Development Goals Health Research and Livelihood Improvement: The HALI Project in Tanzania.”

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Entering a Brave New Phase

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” – George Bernard Shaw

A nearly completed student services and administration building

 As the year 2017 begins, our school is entering a brave new phase of development. Our vision to lead veterinary medicine and address societal needs requires us to never rest to seek novel ways to expand the horizons of our profession, seek expanded knowledge to understand life’s processes, and educate the next generation of veterinarians and scientists. This upcoming year will mark the opening of a student services and administration building, bringing together for the first time, teams that include information technology, student and academic programs, human and financial resources, development and alumni relations, and the dean’s office under one roof. The building will allow a more cohesive and integrated approach of these support teams to directly interact and serve the school. We are deeply grateful to our clients and campus leadership who provided the funding for the project. In addition, a new Scrubs Cafeteria will open in March, providing an expanded menu and enhanced services for the Health Sciences District. This next phase of development will provide a fresh gateway to our campus from the Arboretum, reminding us of our responsibilities to safe guard the health of our environment.  

Surgeons and staff prepare a horse for arthroscopic surgery on it’s hock.

This year, we will further advance our plans for a comprehensive Veterinary Medical Center, focused on the initial phases that include an equine performance center, livestock and medicine facility improvements, and an all-species imaging center. The Veterinary Medical Center will transform the experiences of our animal patients and their human companions through innovative building designs, coordinated patient care, and unique technical advances. We have already begun the initial renovation of existing facilities to expand exam room space and test prototype designs for the future small animal hospital phases. The 10-year plan must be carefully choreographed to ensure that patient care operates smoothly throughout the coordinated phasing of the overall project. We have raised over $90 million dollars from university sources, foundations, and private donors to allow the initial designs of the project to remain on track. Our challenge will be to continue to seek funds from multiple sources to meet our ambitious goal to define the future of veterinary clinical and translational medicine. 

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